Hyppia: van Dijk is Liverpool’s leader

Sami Hyypia

Former Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia has hailed the leadership qualities of Virgil van Dijk.

Hyypia, who was a Red from 1999-2009, is considered one of Liverpool’s best centrebacks and he believes van Dijk is showing signs of becoming a household name.

The Dutchman joined Liverpool in January 2018 for a reported fee of £75 million and has paid back every penny with his commanding presence at the back.

This season, with the inclusion of Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker, has seen Liverpool improve at the back as it has only conceded 20 goals in the Premier League.

The club is also in the semifinals of the Champions League where it will meet Barcelona on May 1 and 7.

“Liverpool have four very good centrebacks. There’s Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Dejan Loven and of course, Virgil van Dijk,” said Hyypia, who is in Malaysia as part of the LFC World tour.

“Virgil is obviously the leader and he has helped Liverpool’s defence tremendously.”

“The other three are very close to his level and whoever plays on the day, to me, is the best combination for Liverpool.”

Hyypia, 45, however, did express his admiration for Gomez, who is only just returning from injury.

The England international, who can also play at rightback, was the first choice partner for van Dijk at the start of the season until his injury at Burnley on Dec 5.

“It’s a pity Gomez got injured when he did as he was playing very well at centreback,” said Hyypia, who won 10 trophies during his Liverpool career.

“It is difficult to say if he will be the first choice partner after this but that is a good headache for (Liverpool manager Jurgen) Klopp to have,” he added.